Home » You Just Don’t Understand The Greatness Of A Trailblazer With A Check Engine Light: COTD

You Just Don’t Understand The Greatness Of A Trailblazer With A Check Engine Light: COTD

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On Wednesday, David woke up from the long weekend and chose to write a take hotter than a Land Rover with a blown head gasket. For reasons still not understood by the rest of the Autopian staff, our dear leader carted himself around last weekend by renting a 2008 Chevrolet Trailblazer with 148,000 miles and an illuminated check engine light. The cost? $82 a day on Turo. By the end of his journey, David concluded that the Trailblazer is more or less the poor man’s Toyota Land Cruiser.

I tell you what, some of you readers just were not having that take. Today’s COTD winner is NephewOfBaconator, for making me laugh with this comparison:

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

The First-Gen Chevy Trailblazer Cat Food Is A Great Low-Cost Toyota Land Cruiser Steak Alternative
Perhaps technically true but I’m not sure I can stomach it.

Looks like one reader is as confused as we are, poor TxJeepGuy:

How much was a normal rental car by comparison? Paying $80 plus dollars a day to drive a Trailblazer with 6 digits on its odometer is crazy to me.

The crowd wasn’t totally hard on the ol’ Trailblazer, from Lockleaf:

I’ve owned 2 of the Saab whatchacallits with a hyphen (9-7X). Maybe its not much of a compliment, but they are easily the best of the GMT-360s. The leather is a cut above normal GM leather, not falling apart on the drivers seat even after 15+ years and 175K miles. Overall Saab made it a much nicer place to be over the TB. Minus the dash mounted cup holder, which is a POS.

I really enjoyed them both. Yes, there are issues, but anyone comfy with any domestic of the period is already fine with those issues.

The Atlas motor has the advantage of a common 5 speed transmission that is pretty durable (MA5), which makes a cool swap. However, my experience is that there are always 4 of them for sale around me with a failed crank bearing. So I don’t really trust the bottom end.

Both of mine were 5.3 LS based engines. I deleted AFM on both, one mechanically and one just in the ECU, and have had thousands of miles of relatively trouble free ownership. And that includes a pretty fair number of miles towing a loaded 3 horse trailer or a car hauler.

The Saab also came with air springs in the rear and auto leveling and it worked fantastically. Very comfortable to drive loaded or unloaded.

The front suspension design creates lift and tire size limitations. The lug pattern is exclusive to the chassis (its different from all other GM 6 lug until maybe recently?), which always annoyed me.

So overall, I’m a fan of the 360s, even if they were badge engineered to every single brand owned by GM.

Now, to be fair to David, he didn’t say that the Trailblazer is on the same level as a Lexus. David’s take was more or less saying that if you don’t have Lexus money, a Trailblazer or one of its many badge mates will get you close enough. There’s a pretty big gulf between the price of a Trailblazer and a GX, after all. Yes, the GX is a far better vehicle, but if you don’t have the cash, that fact really doesn’t matter.

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Mercedes Streeter

Personally, if you must go down this route, I’d go with something like a GMC Envoy or a Saab 9-7. Both have far better interiors than the Trailblazer and at least the GMC will have more or less the same capability. A 15-year-old me learned to drive in an Envoy XL and I still have fond memories of it. Every once in a while I think about picking up an Envoy XL or a wacky Envoy XUV as a Gambler 500 rig…

Have a great evening, everyone!

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Lockleaf
Lockleaf
11 months ago

I’m honored to have been quoted in COTD. Awesome! Thanks Mercedes! I stand by my statement. Its true, its no Lexus, but I’m not Lexus money and enjoyed my Trollblazers.

Shameless self plug here, if you want to see more of the odd things with a Chevy drivetrain that I own, come check out Project Tallhoe on Youtube. Its an International Travelall on a Tahoe Chassis and floorpan!

Thanks again Autopian! I love this website!

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
11 months ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

Memories.. my buddy had a LIFTED 71’ Travelall on a questionable chassis with a RUSTED floorpan.
The hole in the passenger side floor board doubled as a cup holder and and was easily plugged with a large Slurpy cup. You could only see the asphalt flying by under your feet when you needed a sip of your beverage.
Good times.
All the best on your build.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
11 months ago
Reply to  Lockleaf
Drew Slaughter
Drew Slaughter
11 months ago

@Lockleaf. Trailblaab. The word you were looking for was Trailblaab.

Maymar
Maymar
11 months ago
Reply to  Drew Slaughter

I always liked Tröllblazer

Hillbilly Ocean
Hillbilly Ocean
11 months ago
Reply to  Maymar

Jeezus that’s excellent.. I’m dead.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
11 months ago
Reply to  Drew Slaughter

I have no SHAME! I am an unabashed lover of the pseudoSaabs. I am also the proud owner of a 9-2x Aero. Best looking Impreza wagon made. Saabaru and Trollblazer FTW!

Peter d
Peter d
11 months ago

Envoy XUV – Mercedes you need to do it – get searching!!

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago

Okay can we get a what what on COTD? APPARENTLY, not listed everyday, apparently it can be something someones 31 year old son said when they were 4. It is necessary to be funny, the day doesn’t need to be over as 10am COTD has been awarded. It is okay for a Autopian writer to award it to a friend. Its okay if the comment isnt funny, relevant, witty, car related, it can be as obfuscative as a cartoon in the harvard alumae. Who decides it and what are the requirements. I mean sometime just plain stupid wins.

Tristan Hixon
Tristan Hixon
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Someone’s salty. CotD is just for fun, dude, and likely has no criteria beyond the writer of the story enjoying it.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago
Reply to  Tristan Hixon

I agree.

Tristan Hixon
Tristan Hixon
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Okay? So why are you complaining?

Dead Elvis, Inc.
Dead Elvis, Inc.
11 months ago
Reply to  Tristan Hixon

He’s a fucking idiot.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
11 months ago

This is a sad blanket statement to see here. He enjoys reading about and commenting on all things automotive as much as the rest of us.
We all have our own personal neuroses and life experiences to deal with.
I’ve definitely posted my share of idiotic (sometimes self defensive) comments here after a few too many beers or just a bad day.
I try to be cognizant of how my comments affect the overall feeling of the Autopian community. I work hard at improving on what little I contribute to this fun little site without coming off as a complete ass.
Sometimes I fail at that and say some purely idiotic shit.
But, “He’s a fucking idiot”?
That’s all you got?
That’s just some pure, unfiltered, bully shit right there.
It’s not necessary and it doesn’t add any value to the conversation.
Cheap shot Dead Elvis, Inc.
I hope you’re proud of your two stars.

Last edited 11 months ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Bork Bork
Bork Bork
11 months ago

Dave has already been banned here once because he’s a fucking idiot.

Dead Elvis, Inc.
Dead Elvis, Inc.
11 months ago

TTD’s comment history speaks for itself, and supports my previous statement.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
11 months ago

Fair point(less).

Last edited 11 months ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Strong pick me energy here

Hillbilly Ocean
Hillbilly Ocean
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

New around here?

Pancakeman!
Pancakeman!
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

DOTD

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
11 months ago

I guess the real question here is, if the GMT360’s DIDN’T have a straight six engine… would David Tracy have written about it at all? Would he have bothered to rent it?

Let’s say he rented a version that had the 5.3 V8 in it, or if GM had just kept putting 4.3L V6’s in them (which they didn’t, but maybe should have?).

Last edited 11 months ago by Bizness Comma Nunya
Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
11 months ago

Maybe should have kept using the 4.3? Is there any reason whatsoever that you would want the legendary-for-being-a-gutless-turd 4.3 v6 over the straight six with like twice as much horsepower that’s probably just as reliable and doesn’t burn any more gas?

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
11 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Not fast, but certainly not gutless… you can say that about the 2.8’s/3.1’s/3.4’s

2002 Jeep 4.0 V6 – 190hp/235ft-lbs
2002 Ford 4.0 V6 – 210hp/254ft-lbs
2002 Ford 4.2 V6 – 202hp/252ft-lbs
2002 GM 4.3 V6 – 190hp/250ft-lbs

Also Motorweek tested 0-60 in 4.0L Cherokee in 8.5 seconds.

1999 Blazer with the 4.3 did it in the same 8.5 seconds, even though the Blazer weighs a LOT more than an XJ.

So, if the GM 4.3 is gutless… so is the Jeep 4.0L.

The GM 4.3L is pretty underrated as a whole, they tend to last over 200k (or some make it over 300k) with just regular maintenance.

The downside to them? Smoothness/balance…. that’s really the only downside. As is with pretty much every 90 degree V6 ever made, even with offset pins and a balance shaft.

I do think the Atlas 4.2 is a cool motor… GM just didn’t utilize it enough, and the 5 cylinder and 4 cylinder Atlas variants should have also been designed for transverse use in cars, but GM didn’t do that.

Last edited 11 months ago by Bizness Comma Nunya
Pat Rich
Pat Rich
11 months ago

Given that the Atlas died and the 4.3 lived on, it seems this argument was settled by history. A Gen V 4.3 would have been a decent consolation prize for the Atlas. 285/305 hp/lbs-ft on 87 and 297/330 on E85. Not bad.

Last edited 11 months ago by Pat Rich
Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
11 months ago
Reply to  Pat Rich

Agreed. But to back up HammerheadFistpunch a bit more, the 4.2’s AND the 4.3’s (in the 2000s) should have both produced better MPGs if the 5.3 V8 was so close to either in efficiency. So he’s def got a point on that front.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
11 months ago

I do love a good game of “what if”!

During Atlas engine development Ford had a SOHC V6 and Ford and Jeep were going to switch to OHC V8s for the available engines, and I think rootwyrm here said that Chrysler wanted to drop the 4.0 in the WJ too for the Powertech 3.7 but cost or maybe just timing dictated they carry over the old 4.0 I6.

I imagine GM felt they needed a new advanced engine to keep up, but they were also reluctant to put V8s in even though it was clearly a successful move for Ford and Chrysler. Even though the V8 was planned, you could only get it as an option on the extended-length models at first, and then as years went on you could get it on certain regular-length models – like the Rainier, Denalis.

I have to think that was to protect the Tahoe/Yukon, since they had a hold on that market and didn’t want people to just buy a V8 TB/Envoy instead. Didn’t matter as much for the extended models, those were longer than Tahoes so if you needed 3 rows that was an easy sell either way. And the 4.3 wouldn’t have been enough to pull the EXT/XL around, even reviews of the extendeds with the 4.2 said it was sluggish and to just get the V8.

The Atlas 4.2 did have more hp than the competing V8s as they touted, and bested the also-new Toyota 4.0 V6, so wins all around from a marketing standpoint. But yeah, what if they had carried over or even updated the 4.3 and just offered a V8 all along like everyone else. Maybe instead of the 5.3, the 4.8 that was standard in the Tahoe to give some room?

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
11 months ago

Yeah, 4.8 would have made sense (for the category) that GMT 360s were playin in.

Mthew_M
Mthew_M
11 months ago

Yeah, neat/great as the Atlas family was, it was a pretty big waste of time & money for GM. An ‘LS’ 4.3 V6 would have added probably 20hp over the old Vortec, which would have been fine for base Trailblazers, and then just spread the 5.3 around in most of the ‘consumer grade’ models, which most people would have preferred anyway. I know inline engines have cost efficiencies over Vs, but, I can’t imagine a 5.3 (even an aluminum block one) cost much more to build than the DOHC Atlas. That does leave a hole in the lineup for the I-5 in the pickups, but, by the time they came out, the new & improved LX9 3.5 liter 60 degree V6 was finished, which is probably a good bit cheaper to produce than the 4.3 would be. Probably cheap enough to just make it the base engine, but, if GM just had to for some reason, the Ecotec 2.2 was available.

Imagine if GM had put that engineering talent into, say, building the 6L80 instead, and we’d gotten that years and years earlier? Factory 6L80 GMT800s, top of the line Trailblazers and Rainiers with 5.3/6L80 drivetrains, etc. If only the world were always logical.

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
11 months ago

I made it in a thing!

Data
Data
11 months ago
Reply to  TXJeepGuy

I suppose there are worst places to make it than a VW Thing.

David Smith
David Smith
11 months ago
Reply to  Data

Are there bad places?

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
11 months ago
Reply to  David Smith

Prison maybe.
Not to kink shame or anything.

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